En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?


Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Friday - June 04, 2010

From: Angola, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Privacy Screening
Title: Fast-growing screen for New York
Answered by: Nan Hampton


I need a fast growing screen to put along my fence due to undesirable neighbors who moved next door to my summer place. Small lot: 25'x25' . The side is south and the lot is partially shade w sandy soil. I wanted bamboo but cannot find it. Thank you. P.S. I love your site


First of all, thank you for your kind words.  Second of all, since there are no North American native bamboos, we would not recommend that you plant bamboos.  Furthermore, most bamboo species are very aggressive and invasive.  The article on ehow.com, How to Get Rid of Bamboo, gives you a pretty good idea why you don't want to use bamboo.

My first thought was that you would want an evergreen shrub or tree for your screen.  There aren't but a few native to your area (in or adjacent to Erie County) that show rapid growth.  In fact,  Pinus strobus (eastern white pine), is the only evergreen one I found identified as having rapid growth.  Of course, its maximum height is more than 100 feet so that might not be something you want. Two other evergreens of a more moderate size and moderate growth rate are Juniperus virginiana (eastern redcedar) and Kalmia latifolia (mountain laurel).

Since this is your summer place, you might be happy to have a rapidly growing deciduous species to act as a screen and intersperse it with evergreens.  Here are some possibilities for deciduous small trees/shrubs:

Cornus alternifolia (alternateleaf dogwood) and here's more information.

Corylus americana (American hazelnut) is fast growing and here is more information.

Lindera benzoin (northern spicebush) and here is more information.

Physocarpus opulifolius (common ninebark) is fast growing and here is more information.

Rhus copallinum (winged sumac) is fast growing and here is more information.

Salix bebbiana (Bebb willow) is fast growing and here is more information.

Sambucus nigra ssp. canadensis (common elderberry) is fast growing and here is more information.

Staphylea trifolia (American bladdernut) is fast growing and here is more information.

Pinus strobus

Juniperus virginiana

Kalmia latifolia

Cornus alternifolia

Corylus americana

Lindera benzoin

Physocarpus opulifolius

Rhus copallinum

Salix bebbiana

Staphylea trifolia



More Privacy Screening Questions

Evergreen hedge for Dallas-Fort Worth area
May 18, 2010 - Our red tip photina hedge is slowly succumbing to black spot and we'll need to replace it within the year. (Yes, I now understand red tips come in two varieties: diseased and about to become disease...
view the full question and answer

Need to know how to plant trees to create a windbreak in Ashburn, VA.
May 06, 2010 - I want to know how to plant trees to create windbreaks. I live on a slope of a hill, the front of the house is steep and the back of the house has neighbors in a cul de sac. I swear I live in a wind...
view the full question and answer

Plants for pool area in Fort Worth
April 20, 2010 - We have a new pool in our backyard, and now also quite a bit of bare land to go with it. Looking for native grass suggestions and also shrubs/trees that I can plant around the pool area for privacy an...
view the full question and answer

Low water hedge for Sedona, AZ
August 19, 2009 - I'm looking for a shrub to plant along a 90' property line with my neighbor in Sedona, Arizona (high desert). Ideally, the shrub would grow to about 8' and would not require too much water. What wo...
view the full question and answer

Combining native shrubs for hedge in Austin
April 15, 2009 - Smarty, Please tell me what the definitions are for all the various water, soil moisture, drainage and light requirements mean. Are the definitions global? I live in Central East Austin and inten...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center